Several parties launch political manifestos | Sunday Observer

Several parties launch political manifestos

The infighting between the two UNP factions has reached a climax and the UNP faction has raised serious concerns about the legitimacy of its breakaway group, the SJB, by threatening to take legal action against them. UNP Assistant Leader, Ravi Karunanayake told the media that he would urge SJB Leader, Sajith Premadasa and its General Secretary, Ranjith Madduma Bandara to desist from further hoodwinking the public in the run-up to the August 5 General Election, as it has come to light from an audio recording of an Election Commission official claiming so, that the SJB was no longer a recognised political party.

Karunanayake said that the UNP has already made submissions to court on the issue as it cannot be overlooked anymore in the run up to next month’s poll. He has said that after the conclusion of the poll, the UNP would file legal action against MPs elected to the new Parliament on the SJB ticket as it is an unlawful and illegal political alliance. Karunanayake has also urged SJB’s leaders and the Election Commission to express their stance in public regarding the contents which have come to light through the audio recording of the top EC official.

Partisanship

SLPP Colombo District candidate, Minister Wimal Weerawansa, had told the media that one audio recording on Election Commission Chairman, Mahinda Deshapriya’s partisanship is already circulating on social media and that the remaining audio recordings will be released after the election. Weerawansa said, “Here are the independent ones. That audio has come out on social media. If the Chairman of the Election Commission thinks we are political babies, we will release the rest after this election. If there is shame now, you cannot be in that position,” he said.

Reiterating this fact, the UNP candidate, Oshala Herath had released some voice recordings to the media saying that the four voice recordings are testimony that EC Chairman Deshapriya, knows that the candidature of the UNP breakaway faction headed by Sajith Premadasa and contesting under the SJB is illegal and is in direct violation of the Constitution which governs the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Herath has told the media that the relevant authorities could not ignore the need to conduct a thorough investigation on the Election Commission’s conduct. Claiming that he was under tremendous pressure from various quarters to give up the battle against the EC, Herath said he recorded conversations with Deshapriya as well as others, including Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole required for proving his case.

The Mahajana Yuthukam Kendraya had also handed over a petition to the Election Commission vehemently protesting against its decision to request Acting IGP C.D. Wickramaratne to stop on-going investigations into the Treasury Bond Scam and the Easter Sunday attacks pending the conclusion of the August 5 Parliamentary elections. The petitioners told the media that the EC owed an explanation as to why it had intervened on behalf of former Ministers Ravi Karunanayake and Rishad Bathiudeen who are under investigation over the Treasury Bond scam and the Easter Sunday attacks.

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader, Minister Wimal Weerawansa, had also queried the EC’s intervention on behalf of those two cases under investigation. Minister Weerawansa told the media that the EC had set a very bad example in the run-up to the General Election. Weerawansa said that the EC intervened in what he called purely a Police investigation at a time it was under fire over the circumstances under which the breakaway faction of the UNP, the SJB received recognition.

Demolition

The demolition of the ‘Royal Court’ of King Buwanekabahu the II in Kurunegala became a hot topic in media circles as Government and Opposition lawmakers expressed divergent views regarding the issue. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) also staged a protest at Town Hall against the demolition of the historical building in Kurunegala. Prior to the incident, Minister Johnston Fernando said that no one will be allowed to touch the Mayor of Kurunegala as long as he is the District Leader. However, SLPP Colombo district candidate and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya Leader Udaya Gammanpila at a recent media briefing said if the Mayor has committed an offence, he should be given the maximum punishment irrespective of his position. Minister Johnston Fernando presiding over an election rally in the Kurunegala Electoral District has vowed to not let anyone touch a ‘single hair’ of the Mayor who is allegedly held responsible of demolishing an ancient archaeological site amidst the Kurunegala township.

Speaking to the media, Minister Wimal Weerawansa said he doesn’t condone Minister Fernando’s statement. Weerawansa said “If somebody in our camp has indulged in any wrongdoing, that doesn’t mean that 6.9 million people voted for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to permit politicians in his Government to make such unwarranted utterances. This traditional, boasting, arrogant and absurd politics are no more valid today. This kind of politics belong to the bygone days and it is no longer valid in today’s or future politics. We have to realise that ‘boasting politics’ cannot be applied to present day circumstances.

If a person has not committed any offence, no one will ever touch him.

However, if somebody says that he won’t allow anyone to touch even a person who has committed an offence, it’s a very high handed statement which is devoid of any validity. I think some of our politicians have not yet been ‘updated’. That is the issue here. If politicians can realise the hopes and aspirations of the 6.9 million people who voted for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, they can also update their behaviour themselves. Or else, they would certainly become ‘expired commodities’. This applies equally to all Government lawmakers regardless of whether it is Wimal Weerawansa or Johnston Fernando or anybody else.”

Election manifestos

The election manifestos of many parties are now in the public domain for the voters to make an early decision. These manifestos contain creative taglines and attractive policies and proposals to suit the target audiences, but the pertinent question before the public is that, as to what extent those pledges will be delivered and how far the political representatives will be committed to implement them once elected.

The SJB, UNP, the JVP led National People’s Power (NPP) and the TNA have already launched their political manifestos. However, the SLPP goes before the people seeking a resounding mandate to continue President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Saubhagyaye Dekma (Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour) policy statement for which the spadework has already begun. The President’s election manifesto introduced at the last Presidential Election aims at the outcome of “a productive citizenry, a contented family, a disciplined and just society and a prosperous nation”.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) launched its election manifesto themed ‘A strong country-a contented people’ a couple of days ago pledging to establish a people-oriented system of governance that also included focus on national security, a special task force to attract investment, eschewing unsolicited proposals and maintaining a unitary State.

Speaking at the manifesto launch, SJB Leader, Sajith Premadasa said he will implement all pledges in the SJB election manifesto. Premadasa said that his party’s election manifesto was drafted after obtaining a feedback from experts and professionals from all sectors for several weeks. He said that many challenges have cropped up in most sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic adding that it has dealt a serious blow to national security, health and the amity between the people of various communities. Premadasa said, “The difference between our manifesto and what you have seen of other political parties in the past is that we have given timelines to reach targets.”

The UNP manifesto was launched by its Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe recently at the party headquarters Sirikotha themed on “overcoming the Coronavirus challenge and revitalising the economy”. The 16-page manifesto has given a series of promises including a monthly allowance of Rs.10,000 for the recently unemployed including the returnees from overseas employment. It has also pledged to carry out 5,000 PCR tests daily to prevent a new Covid-19 wave.

Commenting on the SJB manifesto, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said there appeared to be a common link between the election manifestos of the SJB and the TNA. The Premier addressing a SLPP election rally in Kandy said SJB Leader, Sajith Premadasa was in the forefront of the attempts made to split the UNP, the oldest political party in the country.

Premier Rajapaksa said, “Premadasa who divided the UNP will not hesitate to divide the country as well. He always asks for a mandate to carry forward his father’s program. When we speak about the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa, the 88-89 terror period comes to mind. I don’t need to remind you of that violence. About 60,000 youth were killed. This is why people are afraid of another Premadasa era. “

SLPP National Organiser, Basil Rajapaksa, has slammed the SLPP Nomination Board for awarding nominations to certain people, who he sees as unfit. Rajapaksa speaking at a campaign meeting said recently a female candidate sent him a video clip where she said the SLPP awarded nominations to mules and horses and requested for his feedback. Rajapaksa said, “I responded saying, though there are no mules and horses among candidates, there was definitely a mule in the Nomination Board and that is why you were given a nomination.”

A female candidate, a popular actress, contesting from the SLPP had said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will endure the fate of the former Government if intelligent people are not elected to Parliament. She said that the SLPP gave nominations for mules and horses adding that the people must only vote for the horses and not the mules.

Two-thirds majority

SLPP Chairman, Prof.G.L. Peiris, said that two-thirds majority is needed to draft laws to rid the country of extremism and to strengthen the defence apparatus. Speaking at the SLPP weekly news briefing, Prof.Peiris said the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) is working tirelessly to uncover the truth behind the Easter Sunday attacks. “Once the PCoI completes investigations and releases a report, action needs to be taken accordingly. We must find both the local and foreign origins of the attacks.” Prof.Peiris said as a measure to prevent financing for terrorist activities, a proper and firm mechanism was needed to regulate foreign funds flowing into the country. He said Opposition parties, have realised that the SLPP was heading for victory and their sole purpose now is to prevent the SLPP from getting a two-thirds majority.

UNP National Organiser and Nuwara Eliya District UNP candidate, Navin Dissanayake has said that a leadership struggle had erupted between SJB Leader, Sajith Premadasa and SJB candidate Patali Champika Ranawaka. Addressing a public gathering in Kotmale recently Dissanayake said Champika Ranawaka was planning to buy elected MPs to his side and he was eyeing to contest the next Presidential Election. He said “The ‘telephone’ is not the UNP. The UNP is the ‘elephant’ and ‘green’ is our traditional colour. The SJB is a rented political party formed to divide the UNP. The SJB is a political party without any policy, future or second level leadership.” Navin Dissanayake addressing yet another election meeting in the Nuwara Eliya district said that there should be a change in the UNP leadership and he is also fit to be party leader. He said that he is at the top of the UNP hierarchy and tha he can be the leader of the party and thereafter become the Prime Minister and the President. “I am an outspoken politician and my first priority is to uplift people in the Nuwara Eliya district.”

Dissanayake said that he has been in active politics for the past 20 years and is in the second or third place in the party hierarchy.

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